Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 20 Pt 1


Official Report
Creekside Oaks Apartments
New Hebron, California

Though Sapphira had hovered before, flying was new. He’d seen other exemplars in the news, arms spread out over their head soaring across the sky, but none of them had been using telekinesis to transport themselves through the air. He remained upright, feet parallel to the ground, and arms spread out on either side.

When he glanced down, he swallowed hard and gritted his teeth. His stomach recoiled, and he tasted bile in the back of his throat. He clenched his eyes shut, forcing himself to take in a steady and even breaths. Sapphira would have to rely on his other senses. It was too damned unnerving to look down at empty air. stretched his mind out, extending his other senses to compensate for his lack of sight and his awareness spread out. He felt the wind against his cheeks, smelled food cooking thousands of feet below and even sensed people and other animals moving about.

It appeared he did not need his eyes to form a picture of the world around him. Everything seemed much brighter and more vivid if he concentrated enough he sensed everything about the world around him right down to the molecular level.

He discerned a child growing in the womb of a woman far down below. The fetus had only just developed, and he believed it was too soon for the woman to know it was there. He sensed the fragments of metal in the leg of a man, shrapnel which had been embedded in his flesh while serving in the military.

People were not the only things which he sensed, a squirrel scurried about on the ground unaware that a hawk was about to swoop down from above and claim it as its meal. An aging truck with clogged fuel injectors, a snake slithering around inside the walls and floorboards of a home unbeknownst to the human inhabitants, and water running through pipes deep underground. All of these things and more were open to him.

His mind couldn’t process the sheer volume of information that was being fed to him. He grunted and let his eyes snap back open before closing his psychic senses. His stomach heaved in protest as he looked out at the brilliant blue expanse before him, but it was preferable to the alternative.

He was never so grateful when he sensed he was getting close to his destination. He threw his hands up, gritted his teeth and eased himself into a steady descent. Soon, his feet touched the ground in front of an apartment building and he craned his neck around looking for signs of the AEGIS agents who’d been tailing him. It was unlikely they would have been able to follow him from so far below, but it didn’t hurt to be sure.

He approached the building, and when he got to the door, he found that it locked. There was a buzzer with an intercom, but he saw no reason for anyone to let him in. That wasn’t much a deterrent for him. He reached out with his mind, focusing all his will around the lock. The mechanism relied on a simple electrical circuit, and once he trigger it, the door popped open.

His target was close. He did not know his exact location, but he was somewhere above him and just a little north. The building wasn’t very large, and while the interior was clean and well kept up, it was a lower-middle-income apartment building. There would be no security. He navigated the hallways, wandering until he found an elevator. When he reached out to touch a button, he realized that his hand was no longer gloved. His costume was gone replaced by the illusory blue blouse and his regular clothes. It was just, no need to call undue attention to himself.

When he stopped on the second floor, he still sensed his target above, so he let the elevator take him up to the third level. He stepped out once the doors were open and took a right. He felt him now… he was close.

Sapphira followed the corridor and stopped just outside a door. There was nothing to distinguish it from the rest, save the number. He paused, took a deep breath and traced his hands over the numerals. His whole body quivered in anticipation, but only when he was close did he experience doubt.

What if this was a trap?

He bit his lip, took a step back and gritted his teeth. He’d come all this way, he would not let himself chicken out now. Sapphira threw both hands out, sending out a wave of telekinetic energy, shattering the doorframe, just as he had the door to Amelia’s house and sent it shooting open.

Silence greeted him. Still, a little dubious, Sapphira stepped inside, glancing in all directions and reached out looking for some trap. When he detected nothing he moved further into the dark apartment. He stopped just outside the bedroom door, detecting the first signs of any habitation. A whirring sound, so faint he doubted he would have been able to detect it before his transformation, was coming from within the room.

He hesitated again before turning the knob and pushed the door open. Light spilled into the room through a set of curtains that weren’t quite closed. A figure rested atop the bed, and as Sapphira edged closer his eyes took in all the details.

The figure was an African American man, hooked up to some sort of breathing apparatus, and he looked to be asleep. Sapphira froze and his rage came boiling to the surface.

Though he had aged in the last twenty years there was no doubt in Sapphira’s mind. It was his daughter’s killer.


Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 20 Pt 2


Official Report
Creekside Oaks Apartments
New Hebron, California

He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been this frail wisp of a man who looked to be on the cusp of death. He gritted his teeth, moved to the end of the bed and stood there eying the man.

His face was gaunt, and grayish, but his resemblance to the young man who had killed his daughter was such that there was no doubts as to his identity. Sapphira’s hands were shaking as he stood and hot tears stung his cheeks.

“Wake up!” Sapphira yelled, putting both hands on either bedpost and shook. The bed lurched forward, a few inches and bounced back slamming into the wall. He had misjudged, but he didn’t care.

The man’s eyelids snapped open, and he sat bolt upright emitting a loud gasp. He looked up at her with a set of wide eyes and mouth hanging open. “What? A-are you the new nurse?”

Sapphira threw a hand out, slamming the man back and into the wall. His hands went to his throat, and he gasped for air. Sapphira lifted his hand. His target rose out of the bed, the sheets and blankets fell away and as he was pinned against the wall.

Sapphira gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes. “Do I look like a goddamned nurse?”

“W-who… are… you?” He asked, gasping for breathe between each word.

Sapphira, feet rose from the ground and he hovered toward him. He stopped once he was less than a foot away from the man and stared at him eye to eye.

“My name doesn’t matter. All you need to know is you killed my daughter, and it’s time you had your comeuppance.”

Sapphira released his hold around the man’s throat, not for mercy’s sake, but so he could hear the man’s excuses. He wanted him to plead for his life before he snuffed out his existence.

“Lady, I don’t know who you are, but—”

Sapphira slammed a fist into the jaw and the back of his head impacted the wall. He gasped, shook his head and looked back at him. “Please, I—”

Again, Sapphira cut him short. “Twenty years ago, you tried to rob a young woman at gun point, she was with her father, an old man. A sound startled you, there was a scuffle, and you shot the girl in the chest and the old man in the hip. You fled the scene leaving a father to watch the light leave his daughters eyes. I was that old man, she died in my arms. Do you remember now?”

“No, no, it’s not possible,” the man said tears streaming down his face and his whole body trembling.

Sapphira grabbed him by the cuff of his shirt and tears of his own streamed down his face. “She was my world, I had no one else, and you took her away from me. She had a daughter. The girl grew up without a mother because of you.”

“Shiiit, I-I’m sorry, I was a dumb fuck. I’d just had a kid of my own, I didn’t have a job or money, my girl and I were going to get evicted and I got desperate. I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I just thought if I scared white folk maybe, they’d fork over some cash, that’s all.”

All at once, he understood why Babalawo’s curse had seemed so familiar. “Your kid?”

He heard a thump from the doorway and turned just in time to see a figure come running toward him. His eyes didn’t have time to take in the details, but he glimpsed a t-shirt and tennis shoes. He brought his hands up, to fend off the attack, but he wasn’t quick enough. The man tackled him and because he was still hovering in the air, the force sent the pair hurtling through the open air toward the window.

He braced himself, expecting the glass to shatter, but he passed right through it and instead hurtled toward the ground. Sapphira threw his hands out and clenched his eyes shut. He mustered his telekinetic abilities and let his eyelids snap back open, just in time to witness himself stopping mere inches from the pavement below.

He spun around in the air, sending his assailant soaring away with a telekinetic wave and righted himself. Once his feet touched the ground, he spun around on the balls of his feet and got his first good look at his attacker.

“Babalawo,” he whispered under his breath as the man climbed from the ground. Though he had never seen him without his mask, he’d seen the bottom half of his face. He might have had doubts if the other exemplar hadn’t already used his powers on the window. He jerked his head around upon hearing his exemplar moniker and stared at Sapphira with his eyes wide.

“Psyren?” He stood there, shaking his head. “What the fuck girl? Why attack my old man?”

Sapphira clenched both hand at his side and gritted his teeth. “Your old man killed my daughter.”

He thew a finger out toward the apartment building. “My father has been bedridden for the last nine years, so unless you were fucking twelve, it damned well couldn’t have been him.”

Sapphira gritted his teeth and threw a hand out sending the other exemplar hurtling away. He gritted his teeth and glanced back toward Babalawo hand held out ready to attack again, but paused between pursing his lips.

He had no desire to kill the Exemplar. Sapphira’s feet lurched from the ground and he zoomed through the air back toward the outer window of the apartment. Babalawo’s father would be dead long before the other exemplar could stop him. Maybe, then he would find peace.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 20 Pt 3


Official Report
Creekside Oaks Apartments
New Hebron, California

The glass shattered shooting into the apartment in thousands of tiny pieces and Sapphira floated inside. Shards crunched under his feet as he turned his attention back to his daughters’ murderer now collapsed back into bed.

Sapphira stood there trembling both hands clenched at his side. He gritted his teeth and eyed the man, swallowing hard as he raised his hands and prepared himself to end the man’s life. His target jerked back, holding his hands in front of his face, perhaps thinking he would somehow shield himself.

“What have you done with Awẹ́?” He asked, peering back toward the window.

Awẹ́? The name sounded African to Sapphira’s ears, but as far as he was aware it might well be European. He knew the name must be Babalawo’s real moniker, and if it was African, it might go a long way to explain his pseudonym. He scowled at the man and gritted his teeth, cursing under his breath.

“Awẹ́ will be fine, which is more than I can say for you,” Sapphira stepped closer, raising his hands and pinned the frail old man to the wall again. He stood there his hand poised ready to squeeze, but he hesitated. He had spent the last twenty years fantasizing about what he might do if he ever found the man who’d killed his daughter and now he was within his grasp he could do nothing.

His heart was fluttering in his chest, his stomach seized up and he sweat dribbled down his forehead. He gritted his teeth, and clench his hands shut, but nothing happened. He heard footsteps and this time he spun around and threw his right hand out toward the source of the noise before the intruder was able to sneak up on him. His telekinetic wave slammed Babalawo the opposite wall.

Sapphira panted, glancing back and forth between both men. He pulled his right hand toward his chest and Awẹ́ soared through the air toward him. He held a hand up, stopping him in mid-air, then threw his right hand out toward the older man. The other exemplar zoomed across the room and he impacted the wall beside his father.

“You should have stayed away, Awẹ́,” Sapphira said between gritted teeth, stumbling over the unfamiliar name. “I didn’t want to hurt you, but since you butted your goddamned head into this mess, I don’t have a lot of choice.”

The older man, turned his head, glancing at the other man then glanced back toward Sapphira. “Please, do whatever you want it’s the least I deserve, just don’t hurt my son.”

Sapphira drew close, glass crackling and popping under his feet. Again, he hesitated, and he didn’t understand why. This man didn’t deserve mercy. He’d killed his daughter, an innocent young woman with a whole life ahead of her. He’d been living on borrowed time from the moment he had taken that life.

“What are you waiting for? I won’t beg for mercy if that’s what you want,” Awẹ́’s father said meeting Sapphira’s gaze.

Sapphira eyed him, shifting from one foot to the other before he drew even closer his face inches away from that of the sick man. “I want it to end. I’m so tired of this pain.”

It seemed to Sapphira that some external force guided what he did next. He threw a hand out, cupping the top of the man’s head and felt himself being drawn into his mind. Again, his abilities pulled him into that dark void between the real world and that of the mind.

He stared up at a dark sky, and when he looked back down a car sitting on the street. It belonged to his daughter. He watched from afar. Events unfolded as he remembered, but from a different perspective.

Butterflies fluttered around him his stomach and sweat cover his hands as he removed the gun inside his pocket. Sapphira did not recognize the firearm, but he remembered it as the type that had been used to kill his daughter.

He knew whose eyes through whom he was viewing those events. It was through the perspective of his daughter’s murderer, Noah Kincaide, that he was witnessing them. The name had come to him unbidden, a result of his psychic connection to the man.

His mind recoiled, and he attempted to draw his awareness out of the memory, but he could do nothing but watch. He saw his younger self climb out of the car, tap on the window of his daughter’s car, then with Clara in tow he opened the hood. That’s when Sapphira, in Noah’s skin, stepped forward glancing around and licking his lips.

Everything happened so fast, Sapphira heard Noah speak that all too familiar demand. “Nobody move and you won’t get hurt.”

When he got to where Everett was about to hand over his wallet the all too familiar ‘thump’ sounded in the distance. Noah, jerked back, startled by the unexpected noise and his finger squeeze the trigger. There was a struggle and Everett grappled with him. Again, the gun went off, and the Sapphira watched his past self collapse to the ground at Noah’s feet.

Noah, fled his heart hammering in his chest like a jackhammer.

The vision shuddered and faded away around him and Sapphira once again stared upon the father and son. He gasped, and took several stepped back, starring back at both men still pinned against the wall, his whole body shaking.

“No!” He screamed out, warm tears streaming down his face. He gripped the side of the head, and sensed rather than saw, Babalawo and Noah collapse to the ground and atop the bed.

The exemplar sensed Noah’s motivations, his fears his concerns for his child and the despair that had led him to rob Everett and his daughter at gunpoint. He saw within Noah an echo of himself, a father desperate to provide for his child at any cost. It didn’t make his actions any less reprehensible, but it gave them context. Everett Howard might have done the same thing had he found himself in a similar situation.

Awẹ́ sprang from the ground, but by then Sapphira was already in motion. He did not attack Babalawo, but rather ran for the window. He leapt through the opening and soared into the open air. All thoughts of revenge fled his mind, replaced by a realization that had shaken him to his core.

Psyren’s Redemption | Ch 20 Pt 4


Official Report
Creekside Oaks Apartments
New Hebron, California

A gust of wind slammed into Sapphira and he clenched his eyes shut his hair fluttering around behind him. He shivered. Though his blouse was nothing more than a projection, somehow it seemed to offer him a modicum of protection. He had a higher resistance to the cold than an ordinary human or he would have long since abandoned his perch atop the building.

He opened his eyes and looked out at the expanse spread before him. New Hebron didn’t have many skyscrapers. The one which he had found himself atop was only a few hundred feet high, but it provided him with a clear view of the city. Even in the dark he saw for miles, the lights of the buildings all around him illuminating the landscape in all directions.

He sat there legs dangling over the edge of the building, trying to make sense of what had happened. He looked down at his hands, the hands of a black woman. Not so long ago, had he seen someone that fit his current description he would have, at the least, made a disparaging comment or two. Fueled by a hatred he had thought justified, he had told himself that the maker had cast all people of color from the same mold. Now, he wasn’t so sure.

What Noah had done was reprehensible, but it was not a direct act of malice as he had believed for so long and he had discovered a commonality between the two of them he couldn’t bring himself to ignore.

“Troubling isn’t it?” A voice spoke from beside him and Sapphira jumped to his feet, stepping away from the figure of a woman who had appeared out of nowhere beside him.

Though he had only met her once, Sapphira had etched her face into his memory.

“Ashtar,” he spoke her name with more than a whisper.

The woman, stood staring at him with a pair of sapphire-blue eyes so like his own. She smiled and stood there with her arms folded across her chest.

“How is this possible?” He asked looking her up and down. “You’re dead.”

“I am an imprint, a shadow of the true Ashtar,” she stepped forward and held her hands in front of her face. “She left this… remnant hoping you might one day be ready.”

“Ready, ready for what?” Sapphira began to edge away.

“Ready to open your heart,” she smiled again and turned her back to him before glancing toward the horizon. “You’ve spent the last twenty years hating that man, and when you got your chance for vengeance, you fled.”

“I should have finished him, it was the least of what he deserves,” Sapphira said between gritted teeth.

“If that is what you believe, why then, did you run?” She glanced at him over her shoulder her sapphire eyes boring holes into him.

Sapphira bit his lip, but didn’t answer. Instead, he walked up to the ledge and stood beside her. He looked down at his hands, scowled and rounded on her. “I could have done it before you did this. This body is changing me, influencing every goddamned thing I do.”

Ashtar continued to stare at him and looked out biting her lip. “Did you ever stop to think, why Ashtar transformed you? She was dying, she knew Chemosh had to be stopped, and she saw within you a potential for selflessness that few of your kind possess. Your soul was weighed down by misdirected hatred. She passed her spark on to you, what you would call her abilities, but she sacrificed her few remaining moments of life to ensure that you were given a form, that she hoped would help you come to terms with the venom that had poisoned your spirit.”

“And,” he reached up cupping his breasts. “Did she consider that even if I came to terms with my this venom I might not want to be stuck in this body for the rest of my life?”

“She considered that,” Ashtar’s shade frowned and reached out placing an open palm against his chest. Sapphira did not understand what the gesture might mean, but he doubted there was a sexual motivation. It made him uncomfortable. “When your journey is complete whatever conflict you have with your current form will be resolved, one way or another.”

“And Van den Broeke?” he glanced down at her hand and frowned. “Did she arrange it so that I would be attracted to her?”

Sapphira shrugged, a soft chuckle escaping her lips. “No, why would you think? She’s beautiful, is it so hard to believe you would find yourself drawn to her?”

“She mutilated herself!” I growled between gritted teeth. “How could I find that attractive?”

“Perhaps,” she removed her hand from his chest and hugged her knees against her chest. “You sense a kindred spirit within her.”

“A kindred spirit? Why would you think that?”

“Well, I would think it would be obvious, you’ve both were assigned the wrong gender, you through your transformation and she at birth. More than that, you’ve both suffered a great deal of tragedy. You through the loss of your wife and daughter and she through the abuses suffered at the hands of her father and rejection of her family. You both dealt with it in different ways, you turned inward and grew angry at the world, she buried herself in her work and distanced herself from those she cared about.”

Sapphira nodded and glanced toward Ashtar. Though the implications of what she said filled him with dread, he found no flaw in her logic. He pursed his lips and looked out at the horizon, squinting at the faint light that had spread across the horizon. “What about you and Chemosh? Who or what are you?”

She sighed and bit her lip. “We came to your world long ago, masquerading as gods. We were a dispassionate people convinced of our own superiority, we used and abused your kind without a second thought. Many of us came to your world. Chemosh, and his brother Moloch carved out their own little domains. I had no interest in conquest, though I was no less cruel, I bounced between the two, sticking with one or the other on a whim. When I grew bored with this existence, I experimented on your kind, playing with their minds with my psychic abilities, driving them mad, sometimes even manipulating them into taking their own lives.”

Sapphira eyed her surprised by this admission, but stayed silent.

“I didn’t anticipate that by viewing their minds, manipulating them in such ways, that I would understand them. By the time I realized what was happening it was already too late. I looked back in horror, realizing the countless atrocities we’d committed against your kind and the terrible effect our presence had had upon your people. I went to Moloch, hoping that I might make him understand, but he was as I once had been, without sympathy or mercy even toward a member of his own race. He saw what had happened as a disease to be cured, whatever the cost. He invaded my mind, attempting to purge the aberrant thoughts from my consciousness, but he exposed himself to them. Like me, he came to understand your people.”

“Chemosh was a mirror image to his brother, so alike, and yet he did not overpower us or purge our minds of the insanity that had come upon us. He fled, perhaps he sensed that what had happened to us could not be reversed or perhaps he did not believe himself powerful enough to overtake us both. We took centuries to catch up to him and when we met in battle. We were victorious. We attempted to share with him, make him understand the change that had come upon us, but somehow, with Chemosh, it seemed only to intensify the malevolence within him. Though, he was the darkness within him neither one of us could bring ourselves to end his life and so we saw no other option but to banish him to the reality which the Gallu call home. Chemosh did not go down without a fight. Again, he freed himself and we battled long and hard. We won, but at great cost. Chemosh lashed out with one final strike.”

She paused, pursed her lips and glanced at Sapphira a sigh escaping her lips. “He saw into our hearts and saw within us both a desire to redeem ourselves and so he ensured we could never do so. Soon after his banishment, I discovered that each moment I remained on Earth was painful. At, first it was a slight ache that was not noticeable, but it had a cumulative effect. Soon, it became unbearable, and it forced me to flee your world using the same gate through which we banished Chemosh.”

“And Moloch?” He asked.

“The effect was different for him. It rendered him powerless, unable to make use of his abilities. He elected to stay on Earth and as far as I know he remains here to this day.”

“And Chemosh, what does he want?”

She shrugged and licked her lips. “I believe he was telling the truth when he said he wanted to retake physical form, but beyond that I cannot say. He may try to conquer this world or he may try to destroy it. I can say for certain he will hunt down his brother, and he will topple governments and level cities to do so.”

Sapphira bowed his head before turning to meet her gaze. “If I join him?”

“I don’t know. The Chemosh I remember, is no more. In times past, he would have kept his word, but he is so different now. I believe it’s possible he may betray you once you’ve fulfilled your purpose.”

Sapphira nodded, glancing down at then street below. He could see people moving about the streets below. If Chemosh had his way, he was certain that many of them would die. Did they deserve such a fate?

Chemosh terrified him, he saw within him a reflection of his darker impulses. A creature hellbent on vengeance and destruction. He was changing, he could feel it, not in any physical way. That ship had already sailed, but it had given him a new perspective. Was it so surprising it would affect him? A part of him liked the changes he saw within himself, but another aspect, the one which so resembled Chemosh, wanted no part.

He glanced back at Ashtar, but she was gone. A part of him felt relief, but a much larger part wished she would return. He stood, put one foot near the edge of the building and glanced down once again at the people below and knew what he had to do. Without a moment’s hesitation, he clenched both fists at his side, and leapt from the ledge. It was time to make a choice.